James Curtis Hepburn (1815 – 1911) was born in the town of Milton, Pennsylvania on March 13, 1815. In 1831, he entered Princeton University. After graduation he went on to the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied medicine, graduating in 1836.
In 1840, he married Clara Mary Leete (1818 – 1906), who shared his interest in becoming a missionary. They applied to The Presbyterian Church in the United State to be missionaries to Siam. In March 1841, they left Boston, arriving in Singapore in July 1841. Their destination was changed to Amoy, China, but Opium Wars prevented them from arriving until November 1843. They returned to the U.S. in 1846.
In 1859, the Hepburns went to Japan as medical missionaries, where Dr. Hepburn opened a clinic in Kanagawa and later a school (the Hepburn School, which evolved into Meiji Gakuin University). While in Japan, he assisted in translating the Bible into Japanese.
In 1867, he produced the first Japanese-English Dictionary.
The Hepburns returned to the U.S. in 1892, Clara died in 1906 and James died in East Orange, New Jersey, in September 1911.
Dr. James Curtis Hepburn (above)
wife, Clara Mary Leete Hepburn (below)